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Nearly half of McDonald’s shareholders (41.9%), representing more than US$51 billion in market value, support a resolution filed by US-based non-profit shareholder advocacy group As You Sow requesting the company develop a list of actions it could take to reduce plastics packaging pollution.

As a cultivator of wasteful “to go” packaging culture, McDonald’s is particularly at risk of regulatory, financial and reputational impacts from its use of plastic packaging, according to the resolution.

At the heart of the plastic pollution problem are single-use plastics like cold beverage cups, condiment packets and utensils used by McDonald’s, which make up the largest component of ocean-bound plastic pollution. 

The resolution cited the seminal Breaking the Plastic Wave report, which revealed that corporations face an annual financial risk of approximately $100 billion, should governments require them to cover the waste management costs of the packaging they produce, a policy that is increasingly being enacted around the world.

The report calls on corporations to cut plastic use by one-third through elimination, reuse, refill and new delivery systems.

McDonald’s Corporation currently has no goal to reduce its overall use of plastic packaging, or to explore reusable packaging beyond the pilot stage. 

“This high vote sends the message that McDonald’s must do much more in order to address the plastic pollution crisis. In response to its shareholders, we expect the company to set new goals to reduce plastic pollution, such as a commitment to use less plastic overall,” commented Kelly McBee, waste program coordinator at As You Sow.

McDonald’s is notably absent from the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, the largest pre-competitive corporate movement to address plastic pollution.

The company also lagged its corporate peers, receiving a D- grade in As You Sow’s Corporate Plastic Pollution Scorecard, which ranks 50 of the largest fast-moving consumer goods companies on actions to prevent plastic packaging pollution.

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